Americans credit President Bush's popularity and his handling of what to do about Iraq as chief reasons for Republican success in the midterm elections, a poll indicates.
When given a list of factors in the election and asked which were major reasons for the GOP's success, those questioned in a Newsweek poll were most likely to point to the president's popularity and his handling of possible military action in Iraq.
Other top reasons were more faith in Republicans to handle the campaign against terrorism, Democrats' failure to offer a clear alternative position on Iraq, to the tax cut and to Bush's economic policies.
People were divided on whether Republican control of Congress and the White House was a good or bad development. Thirty percent said it was a good thing, 34 percent said bad, and 29 percent said it made no difference.
By a 51-40 margin, people thought more will get done in Washington over the next two years because of the Republican control of Congress. Just over half said they were concerned Republicans will move the country too far in the conservative direction — with 28 percent saying they were very concerned.
Almost two-thirds, 63 percent, said they were at least somewhat concerned that Republicans will push through tax cuts that will increase the budget deficit. Almost four in 10 of those who voted Republican said they were concerned.
Asked what policy should be a top concern for Congress, people were most concerned about providing affordable prescription drugs for older people, 80 percent said it should be a priority. Another area of interest was overhauling the income tax system, with 65 percent saying that should be a top priority.
The poll of 1,000 adults was taken Friday and Saturday and has an error margin of plus or minus 3 percentage points.